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EU to tie green goals to trade access for developing nations By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: The European Union’s flag is displayed in Schuman square outside the European Commission headquarters on May 8. This commemorates the declaration that Robert Schuman made in 1950. REUTERS

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission proposed on Wednesday that developing countries wishing to prosper from access to EU markets should uphold environmental and governance standards and adhere to extra commitments on human and labour rights.

Since its inception, the European Union has operated its “generalized scheme for preferences” (GSP) over five decades. Its latest update is due to be implemented from 2024. This will place a stronger emphasis on its Green Deal strategy and its goal of reaching carbon neutrality before 2050.

To give preference trade access to 67 nations, the bloc of 27 countries will still operate three GSP branches.

For the less developed countries, “Everything but Arms” is exempted of duty and has no quotas.

Another group is made up of lower and lower-middle-income countries, such as Nigeria and India. They receive a partial exclusion of duty on two-thirds products in the standard GSP.

GSP+ is an option that offers zero tariffs for those thirds of the products. It’s offered to third-party countries like Pakistan and the Philippines, which implement 27 international conventions related to human rights and environmental protection.

The European Commission has proposed six additional conventions to be included in the new proposal. They will cover the next 10 years, starting 2024. This includes the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the rights of people with disabilities.


Currently, the EU can withdraw preferential market access due to violations of human or labour rights. The proposal would allow for the withdrawal of such rights if there are breaches to environmental or good governance conventions.

The proposal would include the grounds of withdrawal for goods manufactured by child labor or forced labour.

Under the proposed proposal, the withdrawal period could be cut to seven months from the 18-month duration. However, this will require approval by both the European Parliament (and EU national governments).

EBA or standard GSP country do not need to implement the conventions. However, they must uphold them broadly.

Last year, the EU imposed duties on Cambodian garments and footwear due to serious violations of human rights.

As a result, the Commission sees potential for a surge in GSP+ requests as many countries, including Bhutan and Solomon Islands, are now part of the less developed group. They no longer have the right to zero tariffs on any goods, except arms.

All countries that wish to keep receiving GSP+ access must reapply.

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